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July 20, 2005

Note to self
Posted by Teresa at 10:38 PM *

1 lb. orecchiete pasta, cooked drained & cooled
1 C. French lentils, ditto
several ripe peaches
the same again in tart nectarines
1 large sweet Vidalia onion, chopped fine
2-3 Hungarian wax peppers
1 fresh ancho chile
1 large or 2 smaller cucumbers, peeled
3 substantial tomatoes
1 packet Best Foods dry Italian salad dressing mix, plus
herbed cider vinegar enough to turn it to slurry
balsamic vinegar
hazelnut oil
olive oil
white pepper, black pepper, dried basil

Do the lentils and pasta in boiling salted water. Blanch the peaches but not the nectarines. While the peaches are cooling, mix the salad dressing mix with the herbed vinegar, then stir the slurry up with the finely chopped onion. Finish peeling the peaches. Cut them up and toss them into a big bowl. Stir in some onion mixture until it seems well balanced. Follow with the cucumber, nectarines, wax peppers, and well-drained lentils, in that order, mixing gently with each addition. Add more onion. Chop the ancho quite fine. Mix it with the remaining onion and dressing. Add some. Cut up the tomatoes. Mix them in. Add pepper, pepper, salt, and basil. Stir. Temper with a little balsamic vinegar. Stir in the cold cooked pasta. Add more ancho and onion, if appropriate. Dress with hazelnut and olive oil. Stir again. Serve.

Patrick really likes this one.

Comments on Note to self:
#1 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:23 AM:

I'm confused about this bit:

lanch the peaches but not the nectarines. While the nectarines are cooling

Should the second nectarines be the blanched peaches?

And French lentils--I know I'm a barbarian, but what are they? The only lentils I know are dried . . .

#2 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 01:15 AM:

"The best, most delicate lentils are the peppery French green lentils. These hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other lentils."

French (and other) lentils, described:

The Cook's Thesaurus

Pictures, too.

#3 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 01:30 AM:

This bit about lentils left me baffled through a whole day of my Golden Age of Science Fiction:

Eerily Prescient
Susan Adams, 04.15.02
New novels cinch Jules Verne's reputation as the Nostradamus of technology

"... Verne's English publishers, however, didn't favor this same didacticism, and early translators chopped out whole chunks of Verne's work. Worse, some early translations were atrociously sloppy. In the 1872 English version of 20,000 Leagues (regrettably still in print), Canadian harpooner Ned Land lights a fire with 'a lentil.' Verne wrote lentille, meaning 'lens.'"

#4 ::: eiriene ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 03:35 AM:

The recipe sounds delicious, but I'd like to make it slightly differently. The simple explanation is that I'm horribly averse to chile peppers in any form, as I can't tolerate the spiciness (nor can my stomach). Does anyone have any suggestions for some other seasoning I could substitute in that would still give the dish an interestingly complex flavor?

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 07:54 AM:

Lisa: Peaches it is. And Pericat's quote is quite apposite; the little greenish-black French lentils do hold their shape better, and they smell like they're already peppered. "Best," I'm not sure of; black beluga lentils (arhar dal) are darned good, and would be fine in this salad.

Eiriene, I'm not sure, as the peppers were integral to the original idea. Capers or strongly-flavored olives would be a touchy combination with nectarines and peaches. In fact, they'd probably throw the whole thing off.

You might use peeled grapefruit segments instead of peppers, throw in one or two avocadoes, and replace the lentils with chopped lightly toasted almonds, or half and half chopped pistachios and lightly toasted cashews. Watch the balance, though.

#6 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:51 AM:

I second the vote for black beluga lentils. They're plumper, firmer, and hold their skins better than French lentils, and have a pleasantly spicy undertone.

Teresa, how about kalamata olives for eiriene's replacement ingredient? I don't think they'd clash with the peaches, and the salt would be interesting with the tart nectarines and balsalmic vinegar. Or, one historically minded cook I know said that cinnamon enhances a surprising number of things you wouldn't expect it to.

#7 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 09:31 AM:

I'd just like to voice my approval for the presence of orecchiete, one of my favorite pasta shapes of all time and IMO a deeply underappreciated delight.

#8 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:21 AM:

I hope I'm not dragging this thread off topic, but Anarch's observation

I'd just like to voice my approval for the presence of orecchiete, one of my favorite pasta shapes of all time

jogged my memory.

A Mech. E. of my acquaintance once told me that the pasta people have a standing prize to be awarded to anyone who brings them a novel shape ( that can actually be manufactured, that is...).

I figure if anyone knows, it's the folks here. So, does anybody have a link to the Grand Master List of the pasta dies? Many brands list the die number after the name, so I know that such a list must exist.

#9 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:27 AM:

My wife, in one of her two trips to Venice, Italy, in the past year, brought home (I kid you not) a bag of pasta extruded into the shape of penis-and-testes.


#10 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:53 AM:

are orecchiettes shaped like ears?

#11 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:18 PM:

JVP--they have those, and breast-shaped ones, in the States. Very popular gifts among "No one is laughing at the gift except the giver" types, I've noticed.

#12 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:44 PM:

JVP: In Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck uses "penes" when referring to tractors and their harrows raping the landscape. Why I remember this, I don't know...

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Orecchiete are shaped like little pasta suction cups, which can produce interesting effects.

#14 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:27 PM:

I'd leave out the chili too because I don't like it. In fact in making last year's nectarine salad I used all bell and no chili peppers. I like someone's suggestion of substituting cinnamon. Ginger is often good with peaches and nectarines as well. And has a bit of fire/bite though different than that of chili. I don't know how it would do with those lentils though -- I've never eaten that variety.


#15 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 02:21 AM:

Dammit! I was about to wander off to drowse contentedly, and now I want to go find the nearest 24h grocery store...

#16 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 01:53 PM:

I think you should invite me to dinner pronto. That sounds interesting and good. I love fruit and onions together.

#17 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Speaking of fruit and onions together, I recently had my first taste of durian. What a strange fruit! I'd seen it on the racks of sidewalk stalls in Chinatown, but never got up the nerve to buy one because the fruits easily weigh ten pounds each. What if you bought one and decided you couldn't stand it after the first bite? A co-worker brought some in, already cut up, and shared it around. Whoo, it stunk the place up as soon as he opened that Tupperware. The texture was smooth and custardy, which was already odd, but the taste was unlike any fruit I'd ever had before. A little sweet, a little spicy, but with this weird undertone of onions. It was definitely worth trying, but I don't know if I could eat a whole fruit myself.

#18 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 12:17 AM:

Durian is for most people a "love it or hate it" kind of food. Those who love it crave it like crazy while those who hate it can't stand even the smell. Here in Asia it's prohibited in some hotels and airplanes. Your co-worker must be brave to bring a Tupperware-full ;)

But an undertone of onions? Hmm, never thought of it that way before...

#19 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Well, it was a small Tupperware.

#20 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2005, 01:23 AM:

Now you have me thinking about making a pasta salad like this to fill a trifle bowl lined with... umm.. strips of chilled steamed-tender zucchini & Chinese white radish, Swiss chard 'Northern Lights', Armenian-style stuffed grape leaves, & tomatoes. Fortunately, excavating the trifle dish would be Too Much Work.

#21 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2005, 02:53 PM:

At an upscale burger joint in Pittsburgh, when I was in grad school, I had a dish of sherbet. I found a lump in it with an odd taste--not quite pineapple, no, definitely not pineapple, somehow very definitely wrong but somehow familiar. Eventually I recognized it as a dice of onion. It probably fell off someone's burger order. Not particularly bad, but definitely incongruous.

I found a different adulteration years later. I was overjoyed to find tapioca on the menu at Denny's--I had forgotten how much I loved it as a kid. And it was truly fine, until I found the lump, which didn't taste odd, but was much too hard to belong in the tapioca. It was a chunk of glass, perhaps from a broken dessert goblet. No, I couldn't accept a replacement dish of tapioca from them--you have to trust your tapioca supplier. Now I cook it myself three or four times a year. It's my potluck staple.

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